It's fun when I get to interview one of our own.
Today is one of those fun days!
I have Olivia Brooks dropping in today. You already know her from her tri-weekly guest posts (And Now for Something Completely Different, every third Thursday), but did you know she's also an editorial assistant and college student as well as author?
Hi, I'm Olivia, and I'll be sharing my writing with you here! Who am I? Well, I am an avid reader, writer, and aspiring editor in the book world! I am the editorial assistant for Thin Veil Press, Black Thoughts Editorial Services, and the Florida State University English Department. There has always been a desire lingering in me to write and share my words with the world, but also to help others enhance theirs! I hope you enjoy my funky, whimsical words. Stay authentic to yourself, always.
DCU or MCU?
MCU for sure!
Coffee, tea, or cacao?
Coffee over everything.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I first realized I wanted to be a writer when I was in middle school. Since I can remember, I have always had a journal and a book strapped to me like a weapon. There has always been an interest in writing things down, whether that be fantastical story ideas, how my day went, thoughts on an event or book I am reading… the possibility of writing is endless. That is what the ever evolving intrigue is for me, the fact that writing never gets old. It flows through phases of life with me and adapts as I grow.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
The ideas for my stories, poems, and books come from a weird void in my mind. It is super simple to look outside and think of a story about life, but what about a story of life with whimsical twists and sickly wit interlaced? My ideas stem from what I want to see in a book and have not yet. From there, I think of all my favorite things, places, people, ideas… and start to carve out a basic idea. I read the mindmap over and add branches to ideas; themes, tone, language, etc. I let the tree of ideas settle and grow, never forcing myself to just write the story. I am definitely a planner and plotter.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
My work schedule when I am writing is an interesting case because it is constantly changing. I am a full-time college student with two internships, as well as both a part-time in person and remote job. Juggling all of that with a social life can sometimes seem tough, but it really comes down to passion. There is never a moment I dread reading, writing, or editing, which is basically my degree. For my leisure time writing, I am a night person. Writing gets done whenever inspiration strikes though, whether that’s while I eat dinner, on my notes app while I walk on the treadmill, or even the five minutes between classes. It’s all about threading the needle between white spaces in my day.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
My interesting writing quirk is the speed in which I write. When it comes to course work and work tasks, I love to be ahead of the game and stay on top of it. However, in writing, I love to be cracked down under pressure. For example, last year during NaNoWriMo, I completely rewrote my novel and finished 88,000 words in twenty-one days. It seems kind of insane, which no doubt it is, but I think for a writer it is so important to just continuously get the words on the page in the messiest way. You can always go back and edit, but that editing process cannot even happen if the words never leave your brain.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
When I’m not writing, I like to do many things. I’m active for sure, with a love for walking, running, working out, playing pickleball, all of the above. I also like to see my family and take time with my friends. Movies and good television shows are also staples for me, but I try not to consume too much time doing so. A good book can consume me as well. But above all, no matter what I’m doing, my mind is always cranking back to how I can take these daily life activities and use it as inspiration or influence in my writing. In the essence of it, I’m basically always writing.
Is there a trope you find yourself going back to in multiple works? Or one you avoid?
By unpopular opinion, I always find myself writing the “chosen one” trope. There is so much controversy to this one-man stand type of novel, but I love a good twist to traditional storytelling. There is something so enticing to me in using the same kind of trope but making it look completely different every time, all while keeping it relatable and empathetic to the reader.
Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?
By basic advice, I stand by reading to become a better writer. My main advice though is to not only read the genre you want to write, but to let your palette expand beyond. Reading the genre conventions and figuring out why a reader likes thrillers over fantasy based on the way the story is told is crucial to writing your own puzzle. With my experience in writing and editing, it is so obvious as I grow as a reader as well who has read well in the genre and subgenres they want to publish in.
What do you think makes a good story?
In my opinion, I think clarity and originality on traditional tropes and genres makes a good story. In basic terms, it is always the most compelling to me to read something that feels brand new, but to have that backrest of a seat cushion there because I know the type of story being told. Give me fresh plot twists and character archetypes, but keep that traditional route of story so I can glide through the pages.
What are the most important magazines for writers to subscribe to?
The most important magazines for writers to subscribe to definitely depends on the writing they wish to pursue. However, Poets & Writers is a perfect magazine for every writer. They are constantly publishing new issues, every two months I believe, with interviews, contest availability, mentorship and education advertisements, and upcoming literary works in the industry. I also believe whether you or short are a short or long form writer that literary issues and anthologies are a staple to growth as a writer. I used to not enjoy poetry, short, or flash fiction much, but now I devour it. It may have to do with the fact that I am an editorial assistant at a literary press, but short stories teach writers so much. It displays the efficiency in creativity that can conspire if only one takes the time to analyze a story in a critical way. My favorite magazine is f(r)iction, but also Thin Veil Press, which will publish their first issue on Halloween this year!
What’s the best way to market your books?
The best way to market your book is to do it yourself. Start up social media accounts, especially Instagram and X. The writing community base on both of those platforms is amazing and only keeps growing each day. Marketing your book comes down to networking and communication skills in order to connect with other writers and grow a readership. Also, start up an email campaign. Create a newsletter with exclusive updates, writing pieces, and other fun writerly things and promote the free subscription on your platform. Growing an email following is super important because if all else fails and social media disappears one day, that email is still yours! Don’t lean back on others to do the work for you, it’s a lot, but it is so worth it!